Battle of the Lenses: Performance (New) vs. Character (Vintage)
Just because a lens is “perfect,” doesn’t mean you’re going to like the images it produces. While sharpness and flare reduction are high on the list for modern lenses, often they can produce rather sterile images that make for easy color grading, but don’t really have much character. Steve Oakley sent over the video below in which he does a rather comprehensive review of not only a couple newer lenses, but also some seriously vintage glass.
This was shot with a Canon 60D:
The newer Rokinon/Samyang 35mm f/1.4 and the Tamron 17-50m f/2.8 perform wonderfully –nice and detailed wide open without too much flare. That’s to be expected with newer lenses and newer designs. What if you don’t want a “perfect” lens though? Old lenses can give your moving images tons of character. There are situations that might not call for the best lenses money can buy, because a lens that doesn’t perform as well wide open might actually be more pleasing to the eye. Some softer lenses can help when you don’t need to see every pore on someone’s skin in a close-up.
Another point the video beautifully illustrates is that most lenses look pretty good once you stop them down to f/5.6 to f/8, regardless of age. People pay good money for fast lenses to perform well wide open, but if you’re often shooting outside at higher apertures, just about any decent lens you can find will do the job at those f-stops. Many people are always searching for perfect lenses, but sometimes the lens you find at a garage sale can become the lens you actually shoot with the most.
Does anyone use any vintage lenses that may not perform very well but have plenty of character? If so, let us know which ones you’re using below.
Link: Steve Oakley